習近平氏来日 日中外交の難しさ浮き彫りに

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 18, 2009)
Xi's visit highlights delicate China ties
習近平氏来日 日中外交の難しさ浮き彫りに(12月18日付・読売社説)

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to Japan this week left some bitter feelings among the Japanese public toward China. Most of the irritation can be blamed on both governments' tactless handling of Xi's hastily arranged audience with the Emperor.

Xi is widely seen as a future Chinese leader. It is regrettable that his visit did not serve as an opportunity for the two nations to move their bilateral relationship toward a new stage.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Xi agreed during their meeting to promote a strategic and mutually beneficial relationship between the two nations. As was to be expected, the prime minister called on China to proceed with joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea--a pending issue between the two nations--and to improve its military transparency.

Xi, for his part, made a point of bringing up the Taiwan issue as well as ethnic minorities in the Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions. Xi said these matters concern China's core interests.

That may be so, but we consider it imperative that China first stop its suppression of ethnic minorities and improve human rights in these regions by holding dialogue with minority representatives.


Xi's swift rise

Xi is a son of former Chinese Vice Premier Xi Zhongxun. In the autumn of 2007, Xi Jinping was given a special two-rank promotion to become a member of the nine-seat Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. In the spring of 2008, he was elected vice president of China.

His portfolio also includes serving as the point man of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He thus is seen as the most promising candidate to be the next president of China.

The Prime Minister's Office afforded Xi state head-level treatment, such as specially arranging an audience with the Emperor and holding a state dinner hosted by Hatoyama. Xi's political weight appears to have been taken into consideration in making these arrangements.

China had pressed Japan hard to set up Xi's meeting with the Emperor. Given that Chinese President Hu Jintao had an audience with the Emperor during his visit to Japan as vice president in 1998, the Chinese government likely wanted the same level of treatment given to Xi.

China likely believed that a meeting with the Emperor would enhance Xi's authority as a leading figure at home.


Power struggle continues

But the power struggle to determine Hu's successor is rumbling on. While Xi is backed by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who still wields considerable influence even after his retirement, Hu has thrown his weight behind Vice Premier Li Keqiang.

The arm wrestle to determine the next Chinese president seems set to continue for some time.

China heaped praise on the Emperor's visit to that nation in 1992, saying it helped Beijing emerge from its international isolation after the Tiananmen Square incident. This indicates that the Emperor's overseas trips could have political implications.

In light of the importance of Japan-China ties, any trouble of the kind that tarnished Xi's visit must not be repeated. Both governments must tread very carefully when handling issues particularly relating to the Emperor's public duties, including holding an audience with him.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 18, 2009)
(2009年12月18日01時56分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-12-18 05:44 | 英字新聞

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